Filing taxes can be a daunting task every year, but the Department of Defense has helpful resources for active duty service members and their families, and it’s all free through Military OneSource.
Tax services for the military — also known as MilTax — is DOD's approved tax-filing and tax-support service — including tax preparation and e-filing software and personalized support to deal with issues such as deployments, combat and training pay, housing and rentals, multistate filings, and living overseas.
"They can connect with a [tax] consultant during the tax season, and even past [it], through October, but in addition to having that live support walking through the filing process and asking questions that are specific to the military around taxes, they're able to access the MilTax software," said Kelly Smith, program analyst with the DOD's Military Community and Family Policy. MilTax consultants are available virtually.
An advantage to the MilTax software, Smith noted, is it's designed and tailored for the military community. E-filing allows service members to file their federal returns along with up to three state returns at no cost.
That's huge in the military community because our families are going through permanent changes of station and moving multiple times," she noted.
Overall, the MilTax services are designed to be stress-free, Smith said.
"People can rest assured that they are working with tax professionals who know and are familiar with military tax situations," she said, adding that many MilTax consultants return to offer their services every year in high numbers, which provides continuity and knowledge of the armed forces' needs.
At this point, this year's tax deadline for filing 2020 taxes is April 15, although last year it was extended to July 15 because of COVID-19. If there is an extension this year, Smith said MilTax is prepared for it.
"Our staff and our consultants are positioned to fill in the gaps where there may be additional need for that support online and over the phone," she said.
MilTax availability runs until mid-October for service members who need extensions.
"That's simply because we know that the tax season usually ends in April, but for our military community, sometimes people are overseas or they are in a combat zone, and, so, they're able to file those extensions, and [we are] there to help them file their taxes at a later time," Smith said.
Smith said she is not tracking any significant changes in tax law for the 2020 filing year that would affect service members and their families.
"But the 2020 Social Security tax deferral is a big thing at this time," she noted. "We are referring and connecting filers with [the Defense Finance Accounting Service] and with the IRS regarding questions and concerns they have outside of the tax deferral."
Also, MilTax can guide its military filers who have questions surrounding the economic stimulus package from 2020.
"I want to ensure that our service members and families know they can turn to Military OneSource and the tax service as a trusted source, and [MilTax services] understand taxes as it relates to the military community," Smith said.
Call Military One Source at 800-342-9647 or visit: https://www.militaryonesource.mil/all-the-ways/.